Morrisons aims to return up to 800m pounds to investors by selling real estate, the Sunday Times said. The supermarket chain's property holdings are worth 9bn pounds and it owns 90 per cent of the portfolio. Big shareholders think Morrisons could cut its freehold ratio to 80 per cent and stay overwhelmingly an owner of its own sites. The planned sale is designed to assuage investors angry at Morrisons' bad Christmas trading, which forced it to issue an trading statement last week. Boss Dalton Philips will unveil a review of the group's balance sheet in March.
A US court has rejected BP's attempt to block billions of dollars of what the company says are bogus claims linked to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Sunday Telegraph reported. BP was trying to overturn a settlement it reached in 2012 because, it said, a legal loophole had let thousands of unaffected businesses claim money they did not deserve. But an appeals panel in New Orleans voted two-to-one against BP on January 10th and said it was up to the company to defend itself against all claims. Lawyers for the claimants said BP had underestimated the number of potential claims. BP said it would continue to contest the matter. It has said the uncapped total bill for the 2010 spill could reach 90bn dollars.
A US billionaire is planning to invest in Premier Foods' Hovis business, the Sunday Times said. Alec Gores's private equity fund is the frontrunner to invest tens of millions of pounds in Hovis after a bidding process that included Sun European Partners and buyout firm PAI Partners. Premier Chief Executive Gavin Darby is planning a £300m rights issue to lift the company's debt burden. Gores's expected investment is another part of Darby's plan.
Cairn Energy is set to reap £500m from selling most of its remaining stake in Indian oil fields to Vedanta Resources, according to the Sunday Times. Vedanta will hold a shareholder meeting to rubber stamp the purchase of a £560m purchase of most of Cairn's 10.2% stake in Cairn Energy. Vedanta paid $5.5bn for a controlling stake three years ago, prompting Cairn to return $3.5bn to shareholders.
Jupiter Fund Management is mulling the sale of its wealth management business, the Sunday Times reported. The company is reviewing the business, valued at about £50m, after it received an unsolicited offer to buy it. The potential sale, overseen by advisers Evercore, comes as Chief Executive Edward Bonham Carter prepares to step down.
George Osborne is to say Britain should stay in the European Union if the trading bloc liberalises, the Sunday Telegraph reported. In a speech, the Chancellor will say Britain is gaining support for its proposals for reform of EU rules on employment and other policy matters. Osborne will say in the speech on January 16th that Britain would be better off in the EU if "some aspects" of the trading zone changed.
Asos, the online fashion retailer, is expected to unveil booming growth when it updates the market on January 14th, the Sunday Times said. Its breakneck growth highlights the shift in shopping habits to the internet. Asos shares
have more than doubled in the past year and trade at 93 times forecast annual earnings. Ocado, Dixons and Home Retail Group are also expected to have had rapid online sales growth over the Christmas period.
Nat Rothschild and former BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward are close to earning a £100m share payout from London-listed Genel Energy. The Sunday Times said the pair will split the payday with four other founders if Genel shares close higher than £12.50 for 20 trading days out of 30. The shares reached a record £11.18 last week after various analysts issued research notes on Genel.
An activist investor is flying to London to put pressure on FirstGroup to break itself up, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Swedish billionaire Thomas Sandell will meet FirstGroup investors and his hedge fund will give a presentation at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference. He wants the transport group to sell Greyhound in the US and spin off its US yellow school buses and transit business. FirstGroup rejected the plan in December. A large investor told the paper the proposals were "fundamentally interesting" but that it was not clear they could be executed.
The UK's rate of economic growth could reach 4% in 2014, the Sunday Times reported, citing City economists. An increasing number of forecasters expect the economy to expand by more than 3% this year with the rate peaking at about 4% in the middle of the year. Michael Saunders at Citi said: "There is an outside chance that GDP growth could hit 4% year-on-year in one quarter, stemming from a possible sharp pick-up in business investment."